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Corpse thief sentenced in Wichita Falls

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A man who stole a ring and a watch from a body pleaded guilty Friday, Dec. 13 in the 78th District Court of Wichita Falls, Tex. and was sentenced, according to an article in the Dec. 14 Wichita Falls Times Record News newspaper. While stories of grave robbers often were found in Charles Dickens novels, such incidents are less often publicized in modern day United States.

In this case Steven Lee Swanson, 41, of Iowa Park, pleaded guilty to theft from a person/human corpse/grave. This whole episode started on April 13 when Swanson entered Dutton's Funeral Home and requested permission to use the restroom. A few minutes later he departed from the funeral home.

His mistake was signing his name to the ledger in the funeral home. Law enforcement investigators considered Swanson a suspect after his signature was discovered on the funeral home document.

Swanson was identified by a witness as being the person who entered the funeral home on the day the jewelry disappeared from the corpse. Investigators discovered the defendant near Lake Gordon. He was still in possession of the watch.

The suspect confessed to taking the jewelry, saying he was hungry.

Swanson also pleaded guilty to the commission of a second criminal act on Friday the 13th. He was arrested with a forged check for $750.

For the theft from a corpse and forgery charges he was sentenced to two concurrent sentences for five years deferred adjudication community supervision. As part of the plea agreement he is required to complete a drug treatment program. Wichita County Sheriff's deputies escorted Swanson out of the courtroom to facilitate his journey to the drug treatment facility.

If Swanson is caught stealing from anymore corpses during his term of probation, he may be sentenced to the Texas penitentiary system.

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